February 26, 2024

New online harms bill makes Internet safer while upholding freedom of speech 

The Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) supports the federal government’s new online harms bill as a positive step in protecting everyone, including our youth and young adults from online acts of hate, threats, and violence.  

At the same time, the bill protects freedom of speech by providing a clear definition of what constitutes hate. 

“Freedom of speech does not mean freedom to commit acts of hate. This legislation is overdue and addresses a glaring gap in the digital realm that has long posed a threat to people in Canada.”

Mohammed Hashim, Chief Executive Officer of the CRRF. 

The bill also creates, for the first time, a standalone Criminal Code offence for hate crimes and increases the penalties for hate propaganda offences, enabling our laws to catch up to the reality of today, which is that we are in the digital age where hate and violence can spread without limits. The under-reporting of hate crimes is a major issue in Canada, due, in part, to the lack of a clear definition of what constitutes a hate crime and a framework on how the justice system should respond. Now, this bill will support Canada’s justice system and police forces in consistently identifying and appropriately responding to hate crimes.  

For the past three years, the CRRF has been actively engaged in efforts on multiple fronts to prevent and address hate crimes in Canada, including being invited by the federal government to consult on this proposed legislation. The CRRF also co-Chairs the National Hate Crimes Task Force with the RCMP that includes police from jurisdictions across Canada.  

Between 2015 and 2021, the total number of victims of violent hate crimes has increased by over 158 per cent. Informed by the Charter of Rights and Criminal Code, the online harms bill will introduce legislation to protect youth online by ensuring there is accountability and transparency.   

We look forward to its speedy passage. 


About the Canadian Race Relations Foundation: The Canadian Race Relations Foundation is a Crown Corporation committed to fighting racism in Canada. We work to strengthen the social fabric of our society by supporting, enabling and convening community groups and organizations through our grants, services and network of public, research and community partners. 

For more information about our work on online harms, click here.

Media Contact: 

Anna Woodmass 

NATIONAL Public Relations 

awoodmass@national.ca | 416-571-2147 

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